In episode one of a three part series, Dior's François Demachy looks at the Rose de Mai of Grasse.
Was it really six years ago that I wrote a shopping report about Enfleurage, New York’s most specialized purveyor of natural aromatics? Yes, apparently. The boutique has since moved to a new address (237 West 13 Street, in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood) but its staggering selection of essential oils and natural incenses remains unchanged. I still sniff individual oils during each of my visits, but I’m also very fond of Enfleurage’s “house blends.” They’re available as concentrated oils and as “roll-ons to go,” diluted in a base of organic jojoba oil for ready-to-wear use.
My favorite house blend is Sanctuary, a blend of ylang ylang, chamomile, patchouli, clary sage and black pepper…
I’ve seen some beautiful flowers
Grow in life’s garden fair,
I’ve spent some wonderful hours,
Lost in their fragrance rare;
But I have found another,
Wondrous beyond compare… 1
Rose of No Man’s Land is the newest fragrance from niche line Byredo. It’s a tribute to the nurses who cared for wounded soldiers on the front lines of World War I, saving lives in the danger zone of the “no man’s land” — the space between opposing armies. A World War I-era song praising these nurses gives Byredo’s fragrance its title and inspiration: “Mid the War’s great curse,/Stands the Red Cross Nurse/She’s the rose of ‘No Man’s Land!”2
Rose of No Man’s Land is basically a contemporary rose soliflore, and I think it’s a lovely one…
I “met” my first elephant in a zoo when I was little and a life-long fascination with elephants was ignited. My elephant-love led me from Babar children’s stories and elephant picture books, to studies on elephant physiology and behavior, and the symbolism of elephants in art and religion, especially in Buddhism and Hinduism. My house is full of Ganesha statues and amulets, and I always go to Seattle’s Asian Art Museum when a tiny statue of Kangiten is on (rare) view — two elephants stand face to face and tenderly embrace. I love the Indian paintings of Airavata, the white elephant god and mount of Indra, who emerged from the churning of the milk ocean, an event that made the nectar of immortality available for the Hindu gods to drink. (You may know him as Erawan; in Thailand, you’ll see him depicted with three, or more, heads.)
I used to perk up with excitement when I’d see a photograph of elephants in a magazine or newspaper or hear their trumpeting on TV. Now? I approach such images and sounds warily…
It needed to have the perfect petals; not too thick and leathery, yet not tissue-thin. The scent had to be powerful enough to be steam distilled. The plants must be bred under the natural constraints of the field, and then must make it through the next winter as well as be regrown from seed to test for staying power. It takes five years to know if the flower will produce enough oil and resist disease and pests. Kurkdjian and Ducher, whose main tool is a slender sable-tipped paintbrush to spread the pollen of one plant onto the stamen of another, have spent dozens of near-dawn mornings sniffing madly, eyes shut beatifically.
— Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian and rose breeder Fabien Ducher work to create a new perfume rose. Read more in Francis Kurkdjian and Fabien Ducher, Changing History in a Bottle at the New York Times. (found via @sniffapalooza at Twitter)